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Mansooreh Saniei and Hossein Baharvand
The governance of innovative bioscience could extensively influence the growth of science, economy, society and law of every country. Similar to many countries, Muslim nations are experiencing a variety of socio-cultural and political conflicts relating to emerging bioscience, including human embryonic stem (hES) cell research and therapy. Among Muslims, the discussion of the ethics and regulatory policy related to hES cell research is mostly seen as a restrictive position, however, some Muslim nations take an intermediate stance, e.g. Iran as a leading country among Muslim nations. Islam, similar to other religions, significantly influences the moral, social and legal debates around hES cell science. The main argument is about the level of protection of the human embryo as it is used to obtain stem cells and then destroyed. This essay broadly portrays the fundamental moral constructions of Islamic deliberations on bioscience and technology in general, and particularly hES cell science in Shi’a tradition. The paper helps us to understand how scientific knowledge, bioethical discourses and legal deliberations are produced in the Muslim countries. After introducing some background information, it delves into the core themes framing the discussion, with reference to the moral controversy surrounding hES cell science and Islamic faith. This account is intended to present the main highlighted debates and controversial questions. The essay concludes that given continuing conflicts between science, politics and religion in many countries, in some countries, for example in the Shi’a Iran, hES cell science converges with religious beliefs and government policies.